August 26, 2021

The Eastern Shore Public Library (ESPL) has partnered with regional organizations to ensure future readers will have books in their home, thanks to a grant from the Soho Center (  The Library of Virginia’s Division of Library Development and Networking contacted Tiffany Flores, the ESPL Youth Services Librarian, and asked if she would like to participate in the Read Every Day! (RED!) program that promotes children’s literacy, school readiness, and school success.  The RED! program’s goal is to distribute ten books to every Kindergartner and First Grader in Accomack and Northampton County public schools.  The answer was “Yes!” and the local partnership began.


To minimize any burden on school teachers in implementing the RED! project, ESPL Director Cara Burton recommended pre-stuffing nylon backpacks with the books, so that teachers can more easily handout the presorted books.  CARES Covid-19 relief funding was used to print customized backpacks and flyer inserts that promote ESPL resources for youth. 

The challenge was to find volunteers to stuff 900 backpacks with the 9,000 books and identify a location for the fifteen palettes of books.  Burton contacted Northampton County’s Sheriff David Doughty to request community service help from the Eastern Shore Regional Jail in Eastville.  Sheriff Doughty involved Rev. Kelvin Jones, Director of the inmate re-entry program along with Program Coordinator Rev. Vincent Thomas to oversee the activity.  “It was great to see the job skills used by the inmates during this project,” observed Cara Burton, Library System Director. “They worked long hours in the heat, replicating a work environment that required following directions and teamwork.  I am sure they will remember this experience when they reenter the workforce.”

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The next challenge was to identify a staging area to deliver fifteen palettes of books.  Doughty’s staff reached out to Northampton County Schools and the mechanic’s training shop was selected as an ideal location.  Meanwhile, Librarian Flores contacted both counties’ school systems to arrange for pick-up of the book-stuffed backpacks.  The day arrived for the book delivery and the packing slip listed not 9,000 books delivered, but 15,000! 

It took six inmate two and a half days to stuff the backpacks.  The schools picked up their backpacks as well as several additional cases of books for distribution to students.  Cape Charles Memorial Library’s Sharon Silvey contacted Migrant Headstart which picked up five cases of books.  Burton contacted the Eastern Shore AAA/CAA Project Head Start Director Tange Francis who accepted fifteen cases for her pre-school students and will take more at a later date.  The remaining books will be distributed by ESPL and the Friends of ESPL at library outreach events.

Children who are read to every day will have a better attention span, know more about many different topics, have a bigger vocabulary, and want to learn to read.  Children who are read to every day will find it easier to learn to read and better understand what they are reading.  Flyers given to the families with the books include websites to help them raise good readers: and  Parents wanting to learn more about ESPL Youth Services should visit and follow them on Facebook.

While the RED! Project was a challenge for Librarian Tiffany Flores, Sheriff Doughty’s staff, and the other project participants, more than 900 families will soon have brand new hardcover pictures books in their homes ready for reading every day.


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